Barking Blondes: Jabs, child substitutes and Titres tests

Joanne Good and Anna Webb

jab 300x225 Barking Blondes: Jabs, child substitutes and Titres testsNeither of us have given birth, in fact, we met, whilst filming a documentary on Furkids (child substitutes), so the question surrounding child immunisation has never really affected us.

However, a call to our radio show from a distressed listener convinced that her dog’s immune system had been seriously compromised from over vaccinating, encouraged a heated debate. Is vaccination the same as immunization?

“Can’t let the puppy out til he has had his jabs,” is a familiar phrase.

But what exactly is in the “jabs” and is one jab enough? Should the dog then have regular boosters? If immunization is a hot topic for parents then the same is true for pet owners.

It’s ironic that vaccination is associated with responsible ownership and protecting your pet from diseases such as Parvo Virus, Distemper and Hepatitis. However, whilst it’s best to avoid all the above, none of them are fatal for healthy, adult, dogs. And 15 minutes into the show and phone lines began to buzz with listeners who believed their pets had suffered adverse reactions to vaccines.

Joining us was Professor Ron Schultz of Wisconsin’s Vet School, a leading light in the field of immunization in humans as well as animals as well as immunologist, Dr Jean Dodds. Together, they put forward the case that our dogs are immune for life after their puppy jabs. Schultz and Dodds believe that vaccinating on top of these initial shots wont give your dog added immunity.

In the same way a child is inoculated once for measles, the same science is true for animals. Professor Ron and Dr Jean Dodds pioneered studies on vaccination since the early 1970s, when many vaccines were first introduced, and scientifically proved, how over vaccination causes side effects and auto-immune issues. Smaller breeds and older dogs being more susceptible, proves that certain ‘families’ are more vulnerable than others. It’s clear that when vaccinating any animal it’s about the individual and every dog is different.

This research led to the WSAVA the World Small Animal Vet Association issuing guidelines, suggesting vaccination should be no less than every three years, not annually. A slight shift, despite Schultz and Dodds’ studies that in 99.9 per cent of cases, dogs’ puppy jabs give them immunity for life.

If you are confused by all this and if your vet favours boosters then you can take control of your dog’s vaccination program by using a Titres test. This is a simple blood test that dog and cat owners use to test and prove their dog’s immunity. Titres monitors the levels of serological and cellular immunity in the blood for core vaccines; so its results reveal your dogs’s immunity to Parvo, Distemper and Hepatitis. Despite giving us peace of mind surrounding our pet’s immunity, without the need to vaccinate or booster, Titres are not routinely suggested by all vets.

Until recently,Titres relied on external laboratories for diagnostics. This took time and was quite expensive. But now ‘in house’ Titres have been introduced costing no more than a booster jab with results provided ‘while you wait’. Making Titres more price accessible should encourage vets to suggest it as the first step before vaccination.

Some rescue centres dealing with dogs’ unknown histories, are embracing the potential of Titres to determine the immunity, and reduce the need to unnecessarily jab. Forward thinking vets even use Titres Test results, with a certificate, to prove your dog’s immunity required for boarding kennels in lieu of an immunisation certificate.

With information readily available online, it’s advisable for owners to research Titres, and how they can help save your dog from over-immunisation. Hopefully vets and insurers will take the view that just as you wouldn’t give your child the MMR jab more than once in its lifetime, the same is true for dogs and cats.

‘Barking at the Moon’ is on every Thursday from 3-4pm on BBC London 94.9fm

  • Gizwiz

    Ouch, some really unnecessary and aggressive comments – tackled very nicely by Ivana in her comment. For many years I have known (thanks to a very responsible vet) that yearly boosters were not necessary for cats and dogs. Lately I have come to know more about the issue and the possible effects on an animal of receiving the vaccinations regularly. My 5 year old cat has only had her first set of vaccinations and 1 booster and I’m fully aware that she will most likely be covered for the rest of her life. Interestingly, no vet has ever tried to push any further booster vaccinations on me, yet so many do encourage these every year. Why is that? Also, many boarding kennels and catteries don’t help the issue by insisting on ‘up to date boosters’. Do they ever look at Titre test results?

  • Ziggydog

    Relived to see some sense being posted up here! Obviously those spreading pro vaccine propaganda have never been caused to suffer the emotional guilt resulting after trusting a conventional vet for a nano second and wrongly believing their brain washing tactics. After a booster was injected at the same time as a rabies shot our dog has and still is enduring an ‘unexplained’ and re-occuring illness. Despite spending £7,500 to try and get a diagnosis, we’ve been told that science doesn’t have all the answers – brilliant! This is because vets in the main do not believe in auto-immune illnesses – therefore can’t diagnose them but readily accept the money. Leaving pet owners turning away from the conventional profession seeking honesty and ethical treatment, which I believe is lacking in conventional practice. I think the Barking blondes have done well to discuss this issue and hopefully it will make others think twice, scrutinise their vets opinion, read up on Schultz and Dodds and save their pet from being hurt.

  • Simon D

    There is much I could counter argue here and above. I do know however that the vast majority of specialists in the field ( medically qualified people) believe that vaccines are in large safe and that boosters are needed as stated within guidelines – of course you will get the odd reaction but that it surely better than a large number of dogs dying from a disease. I tend to trust evidence based medicine from experts and KOLs than from other sources. Having said that, it is good to see debate from both sides.

  • theUKnaturalvet

    The real specialists in the field, veterinary surgeons who have studied and researched vaccination, advise that core vaccines – whilst reasonably effective and worth giving for most dogs in the first year of life – carry risks and dangers if repeated as regular boosters. As a vet in practice for forty years I have seen and continue to see many cases of vaccine damaged dogs. I no longer give boosters to my own dogs after puppy vaccinations, and wouldn’t advise my clients to allow regular boostrers for their own dogs. There is more and more scientific evidence that vaccines have the potential to cause harm as well as have benefits – like any pharmaceutical drugs they sould be treated with extreme caution.

Most viewed



Property search
Browse by area

Latest from Independent journalists on Twitter